Lamont touts new tobac/vape law as vape illnesses increase

Connecticut

(WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont held a press conference to discuss the enactment of a new state law that increases the legal age to purchase tobacco and vape products from 18 to 21 on October 1st.

Related: New laws that go into effect on October 1st

As of Tuesday, October 1st, it is now illegal in Connecticut to sell any smoking or vaping products to anyone under the age of 21. The new law imposes fines of up to $1,000 per offense on stores that sell to anyone under 21 and up to $100 on those under 21 individual caught buying the stuff.

The law is meant to target the skyrocketing number of young people who are vaping. Public health statistics indicate that that vaping use by high school age kids has more than doubled in a single year.

The Governor went to Platt High School in Meriden to emphasize that the new law is aimed at getting vaping out of the schools saying, “The law is what we can do, it sends a signal, it sends a message.”

The statistics indicate that nearly 1-in-5 high school students are vaping both in and out of school. “In the bathrooms sometimes you can’t go in stalls because people are grouped together and all vaping together,” said Maloney High School student, Tauryn Askew.

Maloney student Ismael Aouji adding, “I have a lot of peers that like go and do that stuff out of school so obviously it’s like a big problem that needs to be fixed.”

But will raising the age to purchase the stuff actually make any difference? Maloney student Erika Arroyo saying, “I think it probably would but I feel like people won’t hesitate to find a way to get it.”

Evelyn Levesque of Newington, who riveted state lawmakers earlier this year did it again today telling about an 18-year-old friend giving her 15-year-old sister a vaping device for her birthday and adding, “At 15 she is now addicted to a smoking replacement and she’s ruining her life thanks to her older sister.”

Many of the people suffering from vaping-related illness are young people.

The change in the law comes on the same day that the Public Health Department announced that the number of vaping-related illnesses has gone up to 21 individuals.

The law also, for the first time, bans all smoking or vaping at all times at schools and day care centers.

Commissioner of Public Health, Renee Coleman-Mitchel saying, “This is a big step in regards to removing any of these type of products from schools and from day care facilities.”

While surrounding states have been banning the use of vape products, Governor Lamont believes he does not have the authority to completely ban the use of vape products by executive order. What Lamont has been able to do is bring his state forward as the first to raise both the tobacco and vape purchasing age to 21.

The Lamont Administration estimates that the state would lose around $6.3 million in annual tax revenue due to the new law.

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